Banksy funding refugee rescue boat in the Mediterranean: report

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British street artist Banksy is sponsoring a boat used to rescue refugees traveling to Europe from North Africa, The Guardian reported Thursday.

The boat, which set sail Aug. 18 from the Spanish port of Burriana, rescued 89 people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, according to The Guardian. The vessel is named Louise Michel, after the French feminist and anarchist who played a major role in the Paris Commune in the late 19th century.

The ship is reportedly currently in search for a safe seaport to either allow the passengers to disembark or transfer them to a European coastguard ship.

It features Banksy artwork on its side depicting a girl in a life vest and sails under a German flag. It is crewed by European activists who have previously been involved in other rescue missions involving more than 100 people, according to the newspaper.

The artist reportedly emailed Pia Klemp, the former captain of several other rescue boats, last September.

“Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”

Kemp said that she initially thought the message was a joke but later accepted Banksy’s help, with the understanding that his involvement would be limited to financial support.

“Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she said.

The Louise Michel is smaller but considerably faster than most ships used for the same purpose. Klemp said it would be equipped to “hopefully outrun the so-called Libyan coastguard before they get to boats with refugees and migrants and pull them back to the detention camps in Libya.”

Tags Banksy European migrant crisis

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